Featured Image credit: XFC MMA
Austin Bashi (5-0 MMA) is set to meet Erion Zekthi (6-1) for the Shamrock FC bantamweight title at Shamrock FC 337 on April 9 in St. Louis.
“He’s a tough opponent, a tough guy,” Bashi told MMASucka. “He’s just another guy in the way that I have to beat. I’ve already had a lot of tough opponents in my career. He’s just another one I see me finishing.”
All five of Bashi’s professional wins have come with Xtreme Fighting Championships. Bashi was gearing up to fight on April 8 at a local show in Michigan when the fight fell through. The undefeated Bashi, 20, got the call to fight Zekthi for the strap at Shamrock FC. Bashi said he is ready for what he called a big fight.
Jesse Finney, the CEO of Shamrock FC, said he is normally stingy when giving out title shots. When Zekthi’s bout with Kasey Tanner for the title fell through because of Tanner’s injury, matchmaker Rob Donaker found Bashi as a replacement. Bashi said he’s ready to make good on the opportunity.
“Looking back at all my hard work through the last 12 years of training and finally seeing it paying off and getting a title shot, I really appreciate that from [Finney],” he said.
Finney said the winner of Bashi vs. Zekthi should get a shot with the UFC or Bellator. Bashi said he is not trying to look too far ahead, as he is focused on Zekthi, but he said he would be happy with an opportunity from a larger organization should he get past “The Albanian One.”
“The UFC was always my goal as a kid; to be a UFC champion,” Bashi said. “Of course, Bellator is another high-level organization, and I would love to fight for there, too.”
Zekthi said in an interview that he feels he has a stronger strength of schedule than Bashi, and that he will be the toughest opponent Bashi has faced yet.
“Definitely on paper, [Zekthi] is ]the toughest guy I’ve had so far,” Bashi said. “A win over him would be a huge win for me, and my career would take an uprise for sure on this one.”
Bashi has victories over James Dunn and Darnell White Jr. so far in his young career.
Zekthi figures to be the hometown favorite in their match-up, as he has spent his entire pro career with Shamrock FC, while Bashi is making his promotional debut. Bashi said it’s “another day at the office,” however, and that it’s just another bout.
As for a prediction, Bashi sees himself wearing gold at the end of the night.
“I see myself grinding him out, taking him into deep waters, and getting the finish in the later rounds. Making him quit.”